University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Colonel Thomas H. Barton


Colonel Thomas H. Barton

(1881 - 1960)
Lion Oil Company

El Dorado, Arkansas


Colonel Thomas H. Barton, a pioneer oilman, visionary and philanthropist, acquired the little-known Lion Oil Refining Company in El Dorado, Arkansas, in 1928 and became its president. By 1955, the company employed 3,000 people, and Lion products were sold by 2,000 service stations across the south. When Monsanto Chemical Company acquired Lion Oil in 1956, he joined the Monsanto's board of directors until he retired in 1959.

He owned KARK and KARK-TV in Little Rock and KELD in El Dorado. He served as a director of Southwestern Bell Telephone and was president of Sonbar Corporation, the Barton Corporation and Real Properties, Inc. Barton published The Arkansas Farmer, a farm monthly. He helped establish the Arkansas State Fair where Barton Coliseum was named after him. As a humanitarian, Barton contributed much of himself and his funds to build a better community. His gifts include the Barton Library in El Dorado, the Coliseum, a wing at the University of Arkansas Medical Center, support for the 4-H Clubs and the Boys Club, student scholarships and numerous other projects.


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